A Month In Slow Motion

We interrupt this knitting class for….

Just after I posted about the blanket class I discovered that I had something wrong health-wise. I had been having trouble sleeping, constant indigestion and my weight started dropping like never before. In fact, I had been trying to lose weight but couldn’t budge it. Because of the indigestion I wasn’t very hungry so I wasn’t eating well, hence the weight loss.

On May 6th I went to the doctor. She sent me for an ultrasound and when I went back to see her I could tell this wouldn’t be good. She turned back to the door for a beat, then took a deep breath and told me that they had found a mass on my pancreas. It took my breath away. I wasn’t going to be afraid, but suddenly I was. Steve Jobs entered my mind. I called my husband, emailed the pastors at my church and the rest of my day was a fog. I had to take my mom to the doctor that day but I didn’t tell her then. I didn’t want her to get upset when I didn’t know anything yet.

It’s funny what happens when you are faced with something like this. You start making plans, like what music you want at your funeral. You start thinking, oh man, I’ve got to get all those passwords written down for my husband. And what about my mom? I need to make arrangements for her now. And boy is she going to be pissed if I pass before she does! (She had a fit earlier this year when her younger sister died. She thought she should have gone first because she’s older. Sigh….) 

I also cast on some Christmas projects. Cuz you know… (I can’t talk about them yet.)

The good thing is we have a will and and advanced directive. Unfortunately, the impetus for that was my Mother-In-Law’s death last year. It was exactly one year from her death that I had the endoscopy that told us that I have cancer. The timing couldn’t have been worse for my family. My poor Father-In-Law had a really rough time when he heard. Of course my sisters-in-law have been really supportive. And my husband has been a prince. Well, really a king. (His name means king.) He’s been awesome. He usually travels a lot for work but now he is able to stay home indefinitely. He can work from home which is what he does when not traveling. He has been taking me to the doctors, making appointments, grocery shopping and cooking, making sure I take the medications, taking my temperature and making sure I am comfortable. I think I’m getting spoiled.

From finding a problem to the first chemo treatment was only a month, but it felt like an eternity. Tom Petty was right. The Waiting Is The Hardest Part. We saw many doctors, got second opinions and finally opted to go with UCLA’s treatment plan. Their review board all agreed that we should do chemo first to shrink the tumor and then surgery. We were assured that this is the most advanced treatment available. They also said that because I am young* and healthy I should be able to withstand the treatments. Usually they are looking at people in their 60’s and 70’s with this condition. 

Blessings

I have to tell you how blessed I have been in this whole process and how the Lord is really covering me. 

In the first place, if the tumor wasn’t in the head of my pancreas I may not have known about it until it was too late. I don’t go in for regular CT scans. Who does? Being where it is caused the indigestion. This is because there is an ulceration in the duodenum. That’s the start of the large intestine just after the stomach. 

The day after I found out there was a mass on my pancreas, reality set in. Visions of tubes and hospitals and other people taking care of me flashed in my mind. I cried out to Jesus, basically freaked out in front of Him. And in the middle of my rant I heard, “We’re going to beat this.” I was calmed immediately, but then started in again. I said, “But I’ve always been so healthy!” And I heard, “That’s why we’re going to beat this.” I was able to go about my day somewhat calmly, but of course I’ve had many more moments to cry and doubt and mourn.

All through the process this last month both my husband and I have been amazed by the kindness and gentleness of all the doctors and nurses we have encountered. When I went for my endoscopy I remember feeling so loved and that these people must be in this profession out of a sheer love of people. My oncology nurse turns out to be a Christian and we bonded right away. Definitely a God-appointment. My Oncology doc is the same doctor who treated my mom for her breast cancer. I already knew and liked him. Because of my family history I was urged to get in the high risk program at UCLA. Since I am in the system, he was able to see my history. He’s suspicious that I may have a BRCA2 gene mutation. If so, there may be more specific treatments available to me.

Our primary doctor told us to immediately start setting up appointments with oncologists and surgeons. We’re so glad she did. When we did call for appointments they were about three weeks out. Luckily, we were able to see Dr. Glaspy the following week at his Porter Ranch office. It turns out this is a better option than Westwood. The drive is much easier. We saw him the same day I got my diagnosis. He scared me, but so did the high emotions of the day. He got me in to see his surgeon the very next day and he was also great. He mentioned the course of treatment that he thought we would be using, but needed to take it to his review board. They didn’t meet until the following Thursday, so we were on pins and needles all week. Meanwhile we had set up appointments at City of Hope. That surgeon wanted to operate first which scared me. I felt more and more that we should go with UCLA. 

Before my diagnosis, our Pastor and his wife came over and gave us the skinny on what we should expect. He had cancer last year and went through chemo and surgery. Their daughter also had cancer at 14 so they know the system well. It was very reassuring to have their guidance. They told us to be patient, that there is a lot of waiting, for insurance, for doctors, how to work around the office staff. Boy was that true. First we were waiting for insurance approvals and my husband was on top of it. Then waiting for doctor appointments and review boards. It was a long month. 

But only a month! Last Saturday our bluegrass band played at our monthly gig, “The Lord’s Kitchen.” Our church has a Saturday each month where they feed the needy a hot meal and we are the entertainment. On the way there I said, “Last month we didn’t even know anything was wrong.” Now I had already had one round of chemo. It seems like forever sometimes, but God moves fast. I remember when my mom was diagnosed that things moved very fast toward surgery. 

My church family has been such a blessing. My knitting group has been so wonderful. When I found out something was wrong I told Stephanie at Unwind that I might not be able to teach the blanket class. She said, “Forget the class!” I was with her when trying to make an appointment for the CT scan. They told me they couldn’t see me until the following week. When I hung up she said, “Call them back! Didn’t the order say STAT?” Sure enough it did, but there was some back and forth with the place anyway. I got in to one of their other offices the following day. Looking back at the calendar I am amazed at how fast things happened – in slow motion! I guess it’s like being in a car crash. Everything just slows down in your perception.

I emailed some women that I knew are prayer warriors and they have been praying and calling (just when I needed it most!) and reassuring me. They send me scriptures that comfort me. One of my friends gave me a set of meditation and healing cds. I have been falling asleep with them, but this morning I actually used it like you’re supposed to and I have more energy today. It could be that I am near the end of the chemo cycle, but I like to think that the meditation helped.

The best thing is that when I saw Dr. Glaspy last Thursday he said that I was looking good. He asked me if I had any discomfort and I realized that I didn’t! He said that is a good sign, that the chemo is working. I didn’t realize that it could work that fast, but I am grateful. I have had days since with some discomfort, but none like before. I am hopeful.

If I lose my hair it should be some time next week. Just in case I made a hat.

The Lizzie Hat

The Lizzie Hat — Yarn: Lang Yarns Sol & Sol Luxe

Swoon —– Yarn: Fyberspates Faery wings 4ply

And since it is really cold in the chemo room, I finished my Swoon.

 

 

 

 


*I’m really middle aged, but I like being called young!

He's Dancing Again…

My dear friend’s husband passed into eternity this morning. He had fought cancer for almost a year. Probably longer, but that’s when the diagnosis came through. It sounds odd, but I was happy for her, and happy for him. He no longer has to endure the pain; it was excruciating for the last six weeks. He is no longer bed ridden. She told me that the other day he was trying to get out of bed, but of course he wasn’t strong enough to walk any more. He has been on pain medication which has made him, well, not himself. It was so hard to watch my friend endure this. I think at times she was at the end of her rope. And yet through it all her faith remained strong. You see, we are Christians and she was clinging to the Rock of her Savior probably more than she ever had to. I only pray that she can rest now. She doesn’t sleep well anyway, and she is absolutely exhausted.

Our church family has been visiting, Facebooking and sending emails to her all day. I am so proud to be part of such a community. We have been bringing food since mid December. I just found out today that people who weren’t on the list have been bringing gifts and food. Some are not from our church, but she has great friends. They are wonderful people and it is all because of our common bond in Christ.

I was happy this morning, but now I mourn. I want to cry. When my DH texted me that he is on the plane headed for home, I thought, “What if it were me?” I know I would be a mess. She is so strong. She was married almost 30 years to her sweetheart. Same for me. What a battle she has endured. The Light shining through all of this is the hope that we have that Reggie is now dancing with his Savior.

Confession Time

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. In church last Sunday the lady in front of me was wearing a sweater that distracted me so much I couldn’t concentrate on the sermon. I spent most of the time looking on my Ipod for a fern leaf knitting pattern. She got the sweater at Mervyn’s. I want to make one. It was a wrap type sweater with the leaf pattern on the yolk front and back. The bodice was plain stockinette and had a few pleats at the center back. Probably on the front panels too. I don’t remember.

I spent all day yesterday trying to work out the pattern. I found something here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/leaf-bookmark. There were only 4 “leaves” on each stem and it had a clover like pattern in between the leaf. It’s driving me nuts!

Scrappin the Night (and day) Away…

Here are a few things I’ve been working on lately. I went to a crop night at my LSS and got quite a bit done.

This was at our choir workshop earlier this year with the Gary Bonner Singers. The workshop was in Arroyo Grande. The layout was done probably a couple of years ago, but I hadn’t filled in in yet.
I came across these pictures in my box ‘o pictures from the kids high school years. I’ve got tons of them. Way more than I can put in a scrapbook. This is from 1999. The choir was singing Africa by Toto. The costumes were made by a Hollywood costume designer.

This is what I worked on today. The pictures are from my daughter’s solo performance in the BHS Pop Show 1999. She performed “He’s a Tramp” from Lady and the Tramp. The pictures were scanned so that I could do a digital layout. I love the background. I’m a little slow at digi, but I’m getting it. The background is Bittersweet from Dahlia Co Designs.

This one is my testimony. It’s my first digital layout. I did it for the FaithSisters challenge last week. Unfortunately I couldn’t get it in on time. Credits to Krystal Hartley’s FaithFreebie embelishments, embelishments from Linda Holt’s Persian Rug kit available on polkadotpotato.com, background by Cheryl Olson.

Journaling: I don’t remember a time that I didn’t know the Lord. As a small child I remember praying to Him, asking for favors, making vows. When my Barbie doll’s leg got broken I asked Him to heal it. I anxiously awaited the next morning when I would wake up and her leg would be miraculously healed. He said no.When I heard my parents fighting in the next room I vowed I would never do that to my children. It was painful to listen to and He heard my cry. He provided me with a wonderful husband who loves me as I love him. We have been together since 11th grade and married 26 years. I have always felt that God led me to him. I feel pretty lucky and grateful for His hand in our lives. He is my rock who I lean on in the tough times as well as the good. Sometimes I see His sense of humor and I laugh with Him. I marvel at the beauty of his creation and the sky paintings He sends me every morning.I haven’t always walked so closely with Him, but he uses life circumstances to bring me back to Him. I’m hanging on to Him for dear life.

Psalm 107:10-15 (NIV)

10 Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 for they had rebelled against the words of God
and despised the counsel of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom
and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men.

IN OTHER KNITTING NEWS

The sleeves for the Oriel Lace Blouse are coming along. I haven’t got any pictures of them yet. They are about in the same place as before I frogged. Umm. Not quite. I haven’t gotten that far, but close.

I finished the scarf for the church ministry. I’ll start another one. Maybe even as soon as I get off the computer. The orange light isn’t a golden sunset glow. It is the light filtering in from the smoke of the California fires. Today it is almost clear again. I took that picture a couple of days ago. It even rained (if you can call it that) a little today. It would be nice if it just poured for a little while.

Well, I need to clean up my scrapbook mess, knit a little and off to bed. I’ve got an early day at church tomorrow. Singing on the worship team. Yeah!

Some Crafty Ladies

I just joined a great web site called Faith Sisters. They are into scrapbooking and like to scrapbook their spiritual journey. There’s lots of inspiration to be found there. One of the founding members of the site is a friend of mine that used to live here. :( She’s very talented in all things Kreative. Another member used to live here too. Now she’s far north of me, but sometimes comes to visit.
Last night was scrapbook night at my church. So far I’m fairly lame at my pages, but I hope to get more creative. I just have to figure out how to shoot good pictures so that you can actually see what they’re supposed to be. I should know Photoshop pretty well by now with the help of these DVDs. It’s always a good idea to take good pictures in the first place. I seem to always have lighting issues.
Knitting Notes:
I finally downloaded some of the pictures I took of the Oriel Lace Blouse. Here’s how it looks so far.

Here’s the front, a shot of the back, and a close up of the pattern.
It even looks good without sleeves. I am going to finish the sleeves though. I ripped them back to row 16 and now am almost half way to where I was before.
In the mean time I have been knitting a simple scarf for my church’s outreach. They want to give scarves, hats and gloves away for Christmas. My first scarf is a 2×2 rib made with Lion Brand Wool Ease Chunky. It’s almost 3/4 of the way done. I don’t have pictures of it yet, but I’ll post when I do. I did my first Russian join on this scarf. I think it came out ok. You can’t really see it; well I can. I don’t think anyone else will though.
The yarn is leftovers from a Christmas project I started in February while my mom was in the hospital. I only need to sew it up. I’ll post pictures after Christmas just in case…. 😉